A Migraine is described as a continuous throbbing headache which affects only one side of the head. It is usually accompanied by a disturbed vision, sensitivity to light & sound and nausea. It can cause extreme throbbing pain which can last from hours to days.
The pain is usually extremely disabling. Warning signs of a Migraine include tingling sensation on your face, leg or arm, blind spots and flashes of light. Taking certain medications can make the Migraines less painful. It usually begins in early adulthood, adolescence or childhood.
The main cause of the headache is the contraction of the muscles between the head and neck. It is a dull pain felt across the head, is mild to moderate, and in extreme cases, may last for a few days. More commonly, it lasts for half an hour to a couple of hours.
On the contrary, migraine tends to range from moderate to very severe in intensity. It is a throbbing and severe pain which is felt at the side or in the front of the head. It lasts for a couple of days and is accompanied by a few other symptoms called the aura.
Headaches do not have any warning signs accompanying it. On the other hand, migraine has auras beforehand. These can be visual, auditory, psychological or physiological. These are due to the neurological changes in the brain. For example, ’Basilar’ migraines are characterised with symptoms of fainting, double vision and loss of balance and ‘Familial hemiplegic’ migraines are characterised by reversible paralysis.
Sudden stress, anxiety, depression, poor posture, tiredness, dehydration, hunger, smells, squinting, noise and sunlight could be the triggering agents for headaches. Menstruation, menopause, low blood sugar, hypoglycaemia, a diet high in sugar, anxiety, exercise, contraceptives, medicines, dehydration, alcohol, too much screen time and diet are some of the triggering agents of migraine.
During a headache, the patient may not have many other symptoms. During a migraine attack, a patient faces difficulty in carrying out his day-to-day activities, cannot sleep or rest and may continue to have the aura symptoms.
Headaches rarely start during sleep while migraines usually start during sleep. Also, headaches are often relieved by over the counter medications and with relaxation techniques. For migraines, it is best to avoid them.
A migraine attack can trigger from some particular food or drinks, exercise, stress, too much or too little sleep, bright light, hunger, odours and hormonal disturbances. It can be a difficult task to figure out what triggers migraine in an individual. The best way to deal with it is to make a list of items and keep checking them every once in few weeks to find what triggered an attack.
Some of the things to avoid order to reduce the number of attacks are Alcohol, Aged cheeses, Chocolate, Artificial sweeteners, Citrus fruits, Cured meats, Dried fish, Dry fruits and Dehydration.
There are a few signs and symptoms in accordance with migraines.
Migraine is a complex medical condition with a range of symptoms. For most people, the main issue is a severe, painful headache. There are several ways to treat migraine headaches including self-care measures, using prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. Most individuals can take care of mild-to-moderate attacks with the following strategies:
Migraine treatments are helpful to relieve headaches and prevent future attacks. There are several medicines to combat the condition. Medications used to treat migraine can be classified into two broad categories:
If a person has more than 4 exhausting attacks per month and each attack lasts for more than 12 hours, he/she is a perfect candidate for the migraine preventive therapy. People in need of the preventive therapy can experience a prolonged aura or weakness and pain-relieving medications fail to work for them.
Cardiovascular drugs are widely used during migraine prevention therapy. So, if the patient is over 60, uses tobacco, or has certain heart conditions, he/she must consult the doctor for some alternate medication.
If ordinary painkillers are not relieving migraine headaches, a medication termed Triptan may need to be taken in addition to other painkillers and anti-sickness medicines. These are specific drugs for migraine headaches by bringing about some changes in the brain. In migraine, blood vessels widen to cause a specific type of headache and Triptans are known to narrow these vessels. This drug is available as tablets, injections and nasal sprays.
Similarly, anti-emetics can successfully treat migraine even if one did not experience vomiting. They act best when taken immediately after experiencing migraine symptoms. Usually, they come in the form of a tablet but may also be available as a suppository. Side-effects can be drowsiness and diarrhoea.
Combination medicines are also available for managing migraine. However, a disadvantage of this medicine is that the dosages of either the painkiller or the antiemetic may not be high enough in the combination medicine to relieve the symptoms. In such cases, it’s better to take painkiller and anti-emetics separately rather than as a combination so as to be able to relieve the symptoms effectively.
Preventive medication does not always stop the headaches completely and medications may lead to certain side-effects.
It is recommended to lead a relatively stress-free lifestyle as stress is one of the most common factors that can trigger an attack. Also, a regular sleep cycle consisting of an adequate amount of sleep is very crucial for people who have a history of migraines.
Migraine prevention does not always ensure complete freedom from the ailment; it is more targeted towards reducing the frequency and severity of the attacks. A person suffering from an attack can take from 4 hours to almost 72 hours, in the worst possible cases, to recover.
The cost of the treatment varies depending on the particular form of treatment the patient opts for. The traditional medications don't cost much; the newly introduced botox treatment costs around Rs.19,200-Rs.38,400.
Migraine is often a chronic condition in adults. Prevention therapy can reduce the frequency, severity and longevity of the attacks, but the headaches do not seize to happen completely.
If one suffers chronic migraine pains and is not comfortable with medications, he/she can opt for several unconventional ways to fight the headaches.
Acupuncture is one such option. It has been seen that this treatment, in which a practitioner inserts many thin, disposable needles into several areas of the skin at defined points, has had positive results in the treatment.
Biofeedback, massage therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy are some other non-traditional ways to treat them. Although studies have shown mixed results, there is some evidence of herbs like feverfew and butterbur somewhat reducing the severity of migraines.